8 Natural Treatments For Fibromyalgia Backed By Science


If you suffer from fibromyalgia, or know someone who does, you know it is a complex and painful disorder. While there is no cure, science continues to emerge showing that a multidisciplinary approach that includes medication, natural supplements, lifestyle interventions, physical therapy, and psychological support can help. We list some of the natural treatments for fibromyalgia in this blog.

What is fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder with many symptoms, but it is mostly defined by widespread musculoskeletal pain that has lasted for over three months. It is thought of as a modern ‘disorder’, but there is evidence from 1592 describing the condition.

Fibromyalgia is complex and can be challenging to diagnose. It has been reported that 1 in 20 people globally suffer from fibromyalgia. However, it can take some people years to get medical confirmation.

One aspect of the diagnosis was centred around how many tender points the person had on their body. Doctors pressed firmly on 18 specific points on the body, and if the person had pain in at least 4 or 5 areas, they would meet one criterion for fibromyalgia. The tender points diagnosis of fibromyalgia was first described in the early 1800s when the condition was known as “fibrositis,” meaning spontaneous pain.

As with many chronic pain disorders, there are often issues with the best way to treat people with fibromyalgia.

Since the 1980s, people have most often been prescribed antidepressants, leading to the assumption that the pain was more in the person’s head than a physical symptom. Advancements in research have now helped to change this belief. However, antidepressants have been shown to help with pain and also support sleep for those suffering.

What causes fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia symptoms are believed to result from differences in how the brain processes pain signals, which then leads to heightened sensitivity to stimuli and amplified pain sensations throughout the body. 

While the exact cause of fibromyalgia remains unclear, factors such as genetics, infections, physical or emotional trauma and hormonal imbalances may contribute to its development. 

Research has continued and some ongoing lines of inquiry include:
  1. Inflammation of the fascia: some research has suggested that the widespread pain of fibromyalgia may be inflammation of the connective tissue called fascia which is found throughout the whole body.

  2. Extra nerves on blood vessels: a study shows fibromyalgia patients may have extra temperature and pain-sensing nerves in the circulatory system.

  3. Damaged nerves: emerging research is showing that they may suffer from damaged specialised nerves causing pain.

  4. Immune system issues: some research shows that people with fibromyalgia may have impaired immune systems that cause chronic activation - similar to autoimmune conditions.

🌿Related: 7 Easy Ways To Naturally Boost Your Immune System

What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?

There are over 20 symptoms of fibromyalgia, but the main symptom reported is widespread musculoskeletal pain, which affects all aspects of a person’s life. Other common symptoms are fatigue, poor quality and disturbed sleep, problems with concentration, mood and digestion issues.

Women are twice as likely to have fibromyalgia than men, and it occurs more often in middle age.

Different natural treatments for fibromyalgia

Management for fibromyalgia typically involves a multidisciplinary approach which can incorporate medication, natural supplements, lifestyle interventions, physical therapy, and psychological support.

Some of the natural treatments for fibromyalgia include changes to diet and lifestyle as well as incorporating certain plants like turmeric that are well documented for their anti-inflammatory properties.

1. Diet

One promising area is making small changes to your diet by focusing on foods that contain anti-inflammatory properties.

Anti-inflammatory foods don’t have to be the latest fad superfood, it can be as simple as adding in more fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and good sources of proteins. Foods that are high in antioxidants are often bright in colour, so think of things like capsicums, berries, fresh turmeric or ginger.

Increasing your fish consumption can also help as it is a good source of omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids are often recommended for pain and inflammation. In our modern diet, we eat more omega 6-rich foods than omega-3, so supplementing with a good quality fish or algae oil (if vegan) has been found to show potential in reducing pain and inflammation associated with fibromyalgia.


2. Movement

Physical activity is another crucial aspect of natural health support for fibromyalgia management. While exercise might be the last thing people in chronic pain want to do, the act of gentle activities such as walking, yoga, and swimming can help to improve flexibility, circulation, strength, and overall mood.

Regular exercise can also help support better sleep quality and help to reduce fatigue - which are both common challenges faced by individuals with fibromyalgia.

Bidonde et al. (2014) have demonstrated the benefits of tailored exercise programs in reducing pain and improving the quality of life in fibromyalgia patients.


3. Mindfulness

Mindfulness-based practices such as meditation and deep breathing exercises can help to support stress management for everyone - but in particular those with fibromyalgia.

Using regular meditation or breathing activities can help with coping with both physical and emotional stress which can reduce the impact on fibromyalgia symptoms.

This literature review supports the efficacy of mindfulness interventions in managing pain and psychological distress associated with fibromyalgia. However, it can depend on the severity of the condition.

4. Turmeric

Well known for its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric has also been studied for its potential benefits in fibromyalgia management. Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

A study by Delecroix et al. (2017) showed that turmeric supplementation reduced muscle soreness and improved recovery following intense exercise. These findings suggest its potential relevance in supporting fibromyalgia-related pain. We use turmeric in our Anti-Flam.

🌿Related5 Anti-Inflammatory Herbs You Need To Try


5. Ginger

Ginger is another well-known anti-inflammatory herb that is being studied for its role in pain management. In a randomised controlled trial, Terry et al. (2011) found that ginger supplementation can support reduced muscle pain in individuals with fibromyalgia, highlighting its potential as a natural remedy for symptomatic relief.

6. St. John's wort

Traditionally used to treat depression and nerve-related pain, a systematic review of St. John's wort was undertaken to see if it could help with fibromyalgia symptoms. This review suggested that St. John's wort may be beneficial in improving pain, sleep quality, and overall well-being in fibromyalgia patients, although further research is warranted to confirm these findings. We use St. John's wort in our Mood Boost.

🌿RelatedA Naturopath's Top 10 Tips For Taking St. John’s Wort


7. Valerian

Valerian root is mostly used for its sedative and muscle-relaxant abilities, so it is often used to support sleep disturbances and muscle stiffness that can be associated with fibromyalgia.

A meta-analysis by Fernández-San-Martín et al. (2010) indicated that valerian supplementation improved sleep quality making it helpful for sleep disturbances, which can be commonly suffered by fibromyalgia patients.

Other herbal options to support sleep are chamomile, passionflower and lemon balm. People with fibromyalgia often struggle with dysregulated nervous systems so stress, worry and poor sleep effects them much more quickly than the average person, so daily nervine support is advised.

🌿Related8 Incredible Herbs To Help With Sleep


8. Bitter plants

Another area that may need support is digestion. People with fibromyalgia often find they have digestive issues, which can present like IBS symptoms (constipation, diarrhoea) intolerances, indigestion or food sensitivities. People may notice that food might not ‘sit well’ with them making even the act of eating quite stressful. With intermittent diarrhoea they will also not be absorbing the vitamins, minerals or energy they require from the food leading to more issues with fatigue and energy. 

Bitter plants can be an effective way to support the digestive system. They help the body to break down food more efficiently and support better bowel motions and waste elimination. Increasing bitter food consumption is one way of helping, as is taking Liver bitters before or after a meal.

As there is no cure for fibromyalgia, focusing on what can be done on an everyday level is really important. This may mean incorporating more natural treatments for fibromyalgia like movement, meditation or natural supplements to go alongside medication, but it also may mean stopping and resting.

For those that have loved ones with this condition it is important to remember that most of this condition is invisible, so often people are in pain all day and you don't even realise. Making their everyday life easier would be awesome - think meals, snacks, walks or small things that might mean the world to them when they are having a hard time.

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